Public mai jos fragmente din lungul interviu despre cartea mea “The Devil in History” luat de Jamie Glazov pentru revista online “Frontpagemag”. Jamie este managing editor al acestei reviste si autorul cartii “United in Hate: The Left’s Romance With Tyranny and Terror”. Nascut intr-o familie de disidenti rusi, educat in Canada, detine un doctorat in istorie de la Universitatea York si este specialist pe teme legate de politica externa (SUA, Rusia, Canada). Tatal sau, Iuri Glazov (1929-1998), a predat studii ruse la Universitatea Dalhousie. Intre cartile sale se numara remarcabila lucrare “The Russian Mind since Stalin’s Death” aparuta in 1985, o analiza profunda a intelligentsiei ruse in secolul totalitarismelor.
FP: Let’s begin with what inspired you to write The Devil in History.
Tismaneanu: I owe the title to the great Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski. In a famous interview with Hungarian-born, British journalist George Urban, Kolakowski spoke about the presence of the Devil in twentieth-century ideologically-driven dictatorships. We speak about the Devil anticipated by Dostoyevsky in his masterpiece “The Demons” (or “The Possessed”). It is a Devil that exploits human gullibility, who organizes hatred, rancor, envy, resentment. It is a terribly modern devil that mobilizes, inebriates, intoxicates both elites and masses with the aroma of ideology. The Devil I write about in this short treatise of historical demonology is a metaphysician, a logician, and a statistician. He pretends to offer ultimate solutions to vital (or mortal) human questions by annulling the distance between the City of God and the City of Man. His expertise is to seduce, to enhance the human propensity for grandiose utopias. Political religions promise immediate redemption via the violent purification of the community. The non-belonger, the outcast, defined racially or socially, needs to be excluded, weeded out, eliminated, killed.
FP: So share with us what the book is about exactly. What is the main thesis?
My main question, underlying all the other ones, is: How was it possible for ideologies so different in their origin and rhetoric to result in mass murder? I see nihilism at the core of both revolutionary programs. Communism, as the great French historian Francois Furet said, is a pathology of the Enlightenment. Fascism is pathology of the Counter-Enlightenment. They are both exacerbated, inflamed, pathological expressions of the attempt to impose through violence elitist fantasies of historical grandeur.
Another main point is my polemic with the disingenuous double standards so often used in dealing with the two totalitarian visions (Communism, in any of its incarnations, and Fascism). It is amazing how prompt the criticism operates whenever dealing with Martin Heidegger’s romance with National Socialism and how meek the reactions are when focusing on Georg Lukacs, a zealot of Bolshevism until the end of his life.
FP: Let me draw some wisdom from you by coming at this phenomenon from a different angle: Why did the criminal enterprises of Nazism and Communism take on an earthly incarnation?
Tismaneanu: They are secular religions claiming to offer answers to crucial axiological dilemmas. You will pardon my philosophical terminology, but I do not know a better explanation that the one offered by the great political thinker Eric Voegelin: these are revolutionary movements aiming to make this-worldly something that belongs to the transcendent realm, to immanentize the eschaton. Communism carries to an extreme, as noticed by Dostoyevsky, the utopia of the Tower of Babel. National Socialism romanticizes the world, re-enchants it. Both are combinations of political mysticism and historical shamanism.
FP: What are your dreams for this book? What do you hope it might help achieve?
Tismaneanu: To bring back the wise insights about totalitarianism, due to major scholars and democratic thinkers, abandoned and derided during the détente years. I do not simply propose a return to positions defended by Hannah Arendt, Norman Cohn, Raymond Aron, Leonard Shapiro, Nathan Leites, Leo Labedz, Carl Friedrich, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Pipes, Martin Malia, Robert Conquest, Leszek Kolakowski, but rather a synthesis that would take into account these major writings, as well as decades of new research and countless documentary proofs that the propaganda state was not a figment of Cold War ideological frenzy and that mass terror was the foundation for this type of state.
FP: Final thoughts on your main themes, which you illuminate brilliantly: the consequences of the impulse to build the City of God and the contempt for the individual?
Tismaneanu: Nothing can be more harmful to human liberty than state efforts to impose an official vision of truth upon defenseless individuals. No state interest can justify explicit or implicit attempts to make the individual an instrument of the government. No state-sanctioned definition of Good should prevail over our own conviction that, through our actions, we are fulfilling our humanity, not degrading and negating it.
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